I don’t agree with Paul Frazee’s point in this post about Twitter vs “p2p Twitters” (by which he means the Fediverse) but otherwise he makes good points about governance and what he calls “operational collectivism”.
There are two kinds of resources in a network:
- Individualist. The resource is owned by one stakeholder and doesn’t require cross-party coordination. Examples might include: tweets, blogposts, personal websites, likes and comments.
- Collectivist. The resource is owned by multiple stakeholders¹ and needs coordination between them. Examples might include: naming registries, package managers, cryptocurrency account balances, aggregated comment threads.
I start the conversation here because it sets the context for all decentralization: that we have mastered individualist operation and collectivist standardization but have failed at collectivist operation. The inability to collectively operate networks has created the conditions for large monopolies on the Internet.
Whoever operates a collective resource has the power to change its implementation. The reason we decentralize operation is to distribute that power of implementation. If the stakeholders have the power of implementation, they’re able to ensure the resource represents their interests.
What’s the point of decentralization? It’s to ensure that the stakeholders — the end users — are represented. Individualism enforces personal control, while decentralized collectivism produces an intransigent consensus. We limit collectivist systems because they’re powerful systems, and power must always be checked.